LLP304: Sustainability and Leadership in Sport Organisations





Sustainability and Leadership in Sport Organizations





Sustainability and Leadership in Sport Organizations


Sustainability leadership can be described as a leadership attributes tailored for a definitive situation.  According to Sustainability Leadership Institute (2011) sustainability leaders refers to “individuals who are compelled to make a difference by deepening their awareness of themselves in relation to world around them. In doing so, they adopt new ways of seeing, thinking and interacting that result in innovative, sustainable solutions.”  Jose Mourihno who currently manages Tottenham Hotspur has been described as one of the greatest manager in the game (football). His enigmatic and impressive leadership has seen him manage Porto, Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Inter Milan among others bigger clubs in Europe. Mourihno creative, innovative and sustainable skills have enabled him to successively win more than or equal to 59% of games he has managed in different clubs. For instance, Mourihno’s sustainable leadership has enabled him to win eight league titles in four different countries, a fit not achieved by any other manager. Consequently, the purpose of the study is to evaluate whether Mourihno can be considered as a sustainable leader. The study will evaluate Mourihno leadership skills by following the Cambridge Sustainability Leadership framework to identify if he can be termed as a sustainable leader.

Mourihno Leadership Characteristics

Sustainability leaders are usually alert and aware of their personality and immediate situations and this gives them a competitive advantage to succeed even when it seems impossible. For instance, when Mourihno to over helms at Chelsea his great awareness and personality enabled him to be effective instill a culture of wining to players who hitherto were average and won premier league in the first season. Moreover, Morrison (2000) note that sustainable leaders comes up with tailor made competencies aimed at changing perspectives and building teams that they are managing. Following are the key leadership traits displayed by Mourihno as a soccer manager.

Empathetic/Self Conscious

In different countries Mourihno has managed, he has triumphed mainly because he is conscious of his strengths and more importantly the capability of every member of his team. Moreover, his ability to understand and manage every team member strengths and weaknesses to a point where even players knew each other strengths distinguishes Mourihno with other football top managers. Scharmer (2008) notes that individuals in leadership need to have a greater space for reflection to be effective and this directly illustrates Mourihno character.  Moreover, by being authentic Mourihno has managed and won different leagues at four different cultural environments in Portugal, England, Spain and Italy as Chesire (2010) notes. Mourihno personal awareness is epitomized when he realized that he could not succeed as player and he turned his attention to coaching.

Managing Emotions

Another key attribute which has enabled Mourinho to succeed is his emotions management skills at personal and team level. For instance, Mourihno has been quoted severally ranting that “players don’t win you trophies, team win trophies, squads win trophies”.  Similarly, Immelt (2010) echoes similar thought by noting that for a leader to be successful in tackling different issues there is a need to apply system thinking.  Furthermore, Mourihno’s humility made him an effective leader in that he knew how to manufacture leaders and also was open-minded and appreciates when his opinions are challenged. For instance, during his first stint at Chelsea almost more than of his first team players became captains and vice-captains of their respective national team. In addition, after he took helms at Chelsea in 2004, there were no star players but he created them by tapping in their emotion power and motivating them to believe in themselves.

Visionary and Courageous

According to Session 2: “Working Definition and Underlying Framework” Some of the main attributes of sustainability leaders is the innovation, creativity, courage, passion, and inspiration. Quinn & Norton (2004) notes that the ancient explorers embarked on journeys which they knew where it could take them but they led their teams without a map in order to draw one. Mourihno ambition and pragmatism has enabled him to achieve the same feat.  After winning champions league with a rarely unknown Porto team, Mourihno sized the opportunity of managing abroad when Chelsea which by then was average team came knocking. Mourihno visionary instincts coupled with his charisma brought passion and inspiration which made Chelsea to maintain position one in the league until they won it for the first time in dacades. By challenging and transforming player perceptions and motivating them, players such as Lampard and John Terry became world class players. Moreover, young players such as Robben and Johnson were given chances and this depicts Mourihno’s vision and courage and more importantly his awareness of changing needs in football. Further, the team build by Mourihno at Chelsea was stayed at Chelsea even beyond his first dismissal at the club to more than six years and won numerous cups including champions’ league a relatively long period for a soccer player in a single club. Moreover, in other teams he managed Mourihno was creative, inclusive, altruistic, and radical especially when facing a major opponent like Barcelona in champions league. Consequently, like Immelt (2007) indicates “leadership is an intense journey into yourself. You can use your own style to get anything done” describes Mourihno leadership skills.

Mourihno Management Skills

Uncertainty and complexity management Skill

A leader should be determined to analyze and translate the difficult issues while responding to dilemmas (Carson, 2010). Mourihno is seen as a leader who has the capability of realizing opportunities as well as solving problems and conflicts. Indeed, when circumstances such injuries of players or relationship problems between the management, he has learnt to used diverse skills to handle the situations.

Communicate Vision

According to Visser, and Courtice 2011, an effective leader is considered essential in sharing the vision of a company and facilitating the dialogue. The communication inspires the sharing of meaning as it results to the creating of conducive conditions which encourage the learning experiences. According to Collins 2001, productive leaders are able to focus the company staff on what they are deeply passionate about. Mourihno has demonstrated that he is able he had the capability of communicating to his staff his vision and what he is best in. He communicates hope to his team and helps in creating effective team work spirit for quality performances. However, the approach of communicating the vision of the Chelsea has taken time and resources. Mourihno has considered establishing effective senior leaders and team members who are respected and embrace change.

Besides, according to Cheshire 2010, it was established that the senior managers and the board of directors have the capability of motivating change among people. Indeed, Mourihno ensured that he has developed effective leaders who are determined to achieve the long term vision of the club. He ensured that management has developed the essential persuasion communication strategies through using clear language. Notably, one of the key concept that has allowed Mourihno to achieve progress is his capability to communicate genuinely and listen to every stakeholder in the company.  He believes in the power of communicating than leading. As Cheshire 2010 communication is critical and complex in an organization and there is a need to improve communication skills to achieve development.

Think long term

An effective leader is focused and used long term thinking and planning approach. As De Vries 2001 notes that leaders should be determined to look far into the future and as well Bill McDonough depicts a view which shows that while he states that his job is to be a tool of nature. Remarkably, Mourihno has demonstrated that he has a long term thinking approach through promoting sustainability leaders in the Chelsea. Notably, many of the players in Chelsea are young which has shown his determination to ensure is sustainable. The young players are offered quality training both the technical and the soft skills which makes them to remain motivated in the team. The approach of providing personal development every member makes the team to attract talented players while those in the team develop a sense of belonging and never want to join their rivals.

According to Carson 2010, it is important for companies to think long-term to ensure they acquire sustainability. The long term thinking is critical as it helps a leader to make plans ahead of time and move a company ahead of time. For Mourihno, he has been able to encourage sustainability through introducing multiple initiatives that are determined to reduce the effects of their activities on the environment. As such, the Mourihno has been determined to instil the importance of using the players in encouraging sustainability in the games. He has been determined to communicate that through sport the communities can participate in solving the pollution issues. The strategy of addressing the environmental issues has helped in encouraging support from the public which assist in funding the team and promoting its sustainability Kalungu-Banda, 2006, Mourihno has considered numerous partnerships in achieving assistance to promote sustainability of the team. Besides, he has adopted authenticity in the team which helps in acquiring the essential values for transparency and communication among the players.

Leadership Action

In determination to achieve sustainability in Chelsea, Mourihno has helped in bridging the gap between sustainability and the actual performance.  He believes that CSR is critical in improving the growth of the club as the players and various stakeholders are motivated to practice ethical practices for the success of the club. Indeed, people have become aware on the importance of business which operate ethically. Mourihno has used the CSR approach to ensure that Chelsea shows that it takes an interest in the wider social issues and not just entertainment or the profits which it acquires. According to Session 5 study notes the strategy of dealing with the global issues affecting the community has helped in enhancing public image and achieving competitive advantages over the competitors. Therefore, the leadership and the actions of Mourihno has helped in establishing critical changes and development in Chelsea.

Internal Actions

            Notably, Mourihno has shown that he is a leader who can promote sustainability through offering solutions to challenges while following various actions. First, he has shown his determination in acting according to the best available knowledge. When faced with difficulty in the club such as player’s disagreement, he is able to address the matters with the urgency they deserve. The matters that concern the club, he is not afraid of upsetting the players for some time but ensures the decisions that are made are helpful in the company. Besides, he is among the leaders who are able to offer strategic goals and a vision for the team. The definition of the purpose of the club and its corporate activity has been well defined and has helped in encouraging the individual commitment in ensuring the club is performing effectively (Bass, 1990). The people in the club are also empowered through the high class training and provision of friendly conditions which allow the players to perform well.

External actions

Mourihno has been addressing the sustainability issues of the company through various strategies.  First, it is the sustainability policies where the club gives priority to the young players and invests in offering the right training to the young players. Mourihno has also improved transparency of the stakeholders in the club and ensures the stakeholders understand the comprehensive performance in the organization (Blake & Mouton, 1968). There are various cross-sector partnerships which have helped in encouraging issues such as the conservation of the environment. Therefore, the external actions have been critical in enhancing the sustainability of the club.


The analysis of Mourihno leadership skills by following the Cambridge Sustainability Leadership framework is critical in evaluating his leadership qualities. First, in different countries Mourihno has managed, he has triumphed mainly because he is conscious of his strengths and more importantly the capability of every member of his team. Mourihno’s humility has also made him an effective leader in that he knew how to manufacture leaders and also was open-minded and appreciates when his opinions are challenged. Mourihno ambition and pragmatism has enabled him to achieve success in his career. He helped in bridging the gap between sustainability and the actual performance as he believes CSR is critical in improving the growth of the club. Therefore, Mourihno can be considered to be among the leaders who have critical leadership skills that are essential in developing an organization.



Reference List

Bass, B.M., 1990. From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision.Organizational Dynamics, Winter: 19-31.

Blake, R.R. & Mouton, J.S., 1968. The Managerial Grid; Key Orientations for Achieving Production through People. Houston: Gulf Publishing Company.

Carson, N., 2010. Interview with Neil Carson, CEO of Johnson Matthey, conducted by Polly Courtice, 15 June 2010.

Cheshire, I., 2010. Interview with Ian Cheshire, CEO of Kingfisher, conducted by Polly Courtice.

Collins, J., 2001. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t.


Immelt, J., 2010. Interview with Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, conducted by Polly Courtice in February 2010.

Kalungu-Banda, M., 2006. Leading like Mandela: Leadership Lessons from Nelson Mandela .Double Storey Books.Leadership in Action, March/April.

Morrison, A.J., 2000. Developing a global leadership model. Human Resource Management 39(2&3):

Quinn, L. & Norton, J., 2004. Beyond the bottom line: Practicing leadership for sustainability.

Scharmer, O., 2008. CISL Sustainability Leadership Research Interview. Cambridge Institute for

Sustainability Leadership & W. Visser.

Sustainability Leadership Institute, 2011. Website

Visser, W. and Courtice, P., 2011. Sustainability leadership: Linking theory and practice. Available at SSRN 1947221.